Friday Jun 21, 2013

Taking a Flying Leap

Yesterday, I went skydiving with three of my children.  It was thrilling, scary, invigorating and exciting. While there is obvious risk involved, the reward and feeling of success was well worth it. You might already be wondering what skydiving would have to with WebCenter, so let me explain.

Implementing a skydiving program and becoming an instructor does not happen overnight.  It does not happen with the purchase of the needed technology. Not one of us would go out, buy a parachute, the harnesses, helmet and all the gear and be able to convince anyone that we are now ready to be a skydiving instructor. The fact is that obtaining the technology is merely a small piece of the overall process and so is the case with managing content in your company. You don't just buy the right software (Oracle WebCenter Content) and go to your boss and declare information management success. There is planning, research and effort that goes into deploying software of any kind and especially when it is as mission-critical to the success of your business as Enterprise Content Management.

To become a certified skydiving instructor takes at least 3 years of commitment and often longer. In the United States, candidates must complete over 500 solo jumps of their own over a minimum of 36 months and then must complete additional rigorous training under observation.  When you consider the amount of time and effort involved, it's not unlike getting a college degree and anyone that has trusted their lives to one of these instructors will no doubt appreciate their dedication to the curriculum.  Implementing an ECM system won't take that long, but it certainly requires commitment, analysis and consideration.

But guess what?  Humans are involved and that means that mistakes can happen and that rules change.  This struck me while reading an excellent post on by Glenn S. Phillips entitled "Mission Impossible: 4 Reasons Compliance is Impossible".  His over-arching point was that with information management and security, environments change and people are involved meaning the work is never done.  He stated that you can never claim your compliance efforts are complete because of the following reasons.

  1. People are involved.  And lets face it, some are more trustworthy than others.
  2. Change is Constant. There is always some new technology coming along that is disruptive. Consumer grade cloud file sharing and sync tools come to mind here.
  3. Compliance is interpreted, not defined.  Laws and the judges that read them are always on the move.
  4. Technology is a tool, not a complete solution. There is no magic pill.

The skydiving analogy holds true here as well.  Ultimately, a single person packs your parachute.  For obvious reasons, you prefer that this person be trustworthy but there are no absolute guarantees of a 100% error-free scenario.  Weather and wind conditions are never a constant and the best-laid plans for a great day of skydiving are easily disrupted by forces outside of your control.  Rules and regulations vary by location and may be updated at any time and as I mentioned early on, even the best technology on its own will only get you started.

The good news is that, like skydiving, with the right technology, the right planning, the right team and a proper understanding of the rules and regulations that govern your industry, your ECM deployment can be a great success.  Failure to plan for any of the 4 factors that Glenn outlined in his article will certainly put your deployment and maybe even your company at risk, so consider them carefully.

As a final aside, for those of you who consider skydiving an incredibly dangerous and risky pastime, consider this comparative statistic.  In 2012, the U.S. Parachute Association recorded 19 fatal skydiving accidents in the U.S. out of roughly 3.1 million jumps.  That’s 0.006 fatalities per 1,000 jumps. By comparison, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that there were 34,080 deaths due to car accidents in 2012.  Based on the percentages, one could argue that it is safer to jump out of a plane than to drive to the airport where the skydiving will take place.

While the way you manage, secure, classify, control, retain and dispose of company files may not carry as much risk as driving or skydiving, it certainly carries risk for the organization when not planned and deployed appropriately.  Consider all the factors involved in your organization as you make your content management plans.  For additional areas of consideration, be sure to download our free whitepaper on the topic entitled "The Top 10 Criteria for Choosing an ECM System" which is available for download here.

Monday Jun 17, 2013

Content. What's it good for?

If you walked down the halls of your office and observed your colleagues, or talked to your friends over lunch about what they are working on, chances are good that they are using a lot of different files, documents and images throughout the course of their day, depending upon what their jobs are.  

This in itself is not surprising. Of course the HR person is dealing with resumes that are DOC or PDF files, the Accounts Payable person is dealing with invoices that were scanned or faxed in as TIFF images and the graphic designer spends most of her day dealing with Illustrator files.  But when you ask these same people where they store and keep this information, you are likely to hear about all sorts of locations, some familiar and some unknown.  The designer might be storing Illustrator files on an external hard drive connected to her Mac or in her own digital asset library.  Those HR docs are going into a SharePoint library that replaced the old network file store they used to use and those invoices are stored in the ERP system used to pay vendors  - an Oracle system, no doubt!  :) .

The problem is that Content is everywhere and for most companies, not well coordinated or managed.  If you asked any one of these people, they would likely say their current system is just fine for them.  Why?  Because they know where it is stored and they have become very familiar with their particular storage system. When they need something, they know where to look, even before they have details of the file name, account or vendor name, etc.

This is great until those people with this knowledge leave the company or are hit by a bus.  Now what?  Where is that valuable content that you are now being urgently asked for?  Are you sure you know?  And what about using that same information across departments or within other business systems? When companies have information stored across locations, repositories or even scattered within the cloud, the opportunity to lose information grows along with the number of locations in use.  

Our mission here on the Oracle WebCenter team is to help companies do more with the information they have and optimize the way users, customers and partners directly engage with that  information.  The next few blog posts will deal with Content @ Work.  We will focus on how to make the most of it, how to optimize the way it is stored to lower costs and how to make it easier to find what is needed - no matter who is looking for it.  

We hope you find it informative and we thank you for subscribing to the WebCenter Blog!

Wednesday May 15, 2013

Learning from our customers: Mortenson Construction

Today, Thursday May 16th at 1pm Eastern, 10am Pacific, we will be broadcasting a new webcast featuring a WebCenter customer, Mortenson Construction.  I hope you can take the time to join us, either live or later on by viewing it on-demand.  Many of know the benefits of enterprise content management (ECM) but they have taken it to another level by making sure that every person involved in a construction project has immediate access to the info they need.

OK, so some of you may be saying, isn't that what ECM is all about?  Immediate access to the right content in order to make the right business decisions.  Well, yes, ideally but I suspect we all know scenarios where that is not necessarily the case.  For businesses that do not take the time to incorporate a centralized approach to content management and dissemination, ECM can become a great place to hide information, not use it effectively.

Mortenson Construction has done a great job of making sure that project owners, managers, designers, architects, trade partners and finance teams all have secure access into the project information they need.  And best of all, they can do it from anywhere, on mobile devices, even on the job site itself.  Most of us are not in the construction industry but we have seen projects underway.  

You've probably seen the trailers that are placed on the job site so that managers, foreman and various craft workers can meet and discuss the latest design specifications and resolve problems as they arise. But what about the work team on the 16th floor of the high-rise being built?  Do they have to take an extended break every time there is an issue to resolve and make their way back to the trailer to discuss it? Not if they work at Mortenson!  They have a portable "Field Box" that is effectively a small office in a steel container. It can be moved anywhere by crane and be immediately online with access to every bit of project information.

Mortenson calls this "Project Connect" and it is a great example of how a company can take the power of content that must be securely managed within an ECM system to meet information governance and compliance requirements and get it to every one that needs it... anywhere!

We hope you will join the webcast tomorrow and hear directly from the team at Mortenson Construction about the benefits that they are realizing by using WebCenter Content as their ECM system.  Maybe you can realize some of those benefits too!

Click this link to join us and register to watch this informative webcast. 

Wednesday Apr 17, 2013

7 Ways to use Content to make your Business Healthier!

Join us on Thursday, April 18th at 1pm Eastern, 10am Pacific to learn about the 7 ways Content and the proper use of ECM can help improve the overall health of your business. We hope to see you then! 

Monday Apr 15, 2013

Getting past Heartbreak Hill

UPDATE:  We're horrified to hear of the bombings that occurred today at the Boston Marathon.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured on Boylston Street today. 

Here in Boston, today is the day of the Boston Marathon.  One of the most difficult sections of the marathon course is a section called "Heartbreak Hill".  It begins about 20 miles into the race and while the ascent is only about 88 feet, it comes in the portion of a marathon distance where muscle glycogen stores are most likely to be depleted—a phenomenon referred to by marathoners as "hitting the wall."

When it comes to content management and how each of our organizations manage information, a lot of organizations have also hit the proverbial wall.  Information growth continues exponentially year after year and it can sometime seem as if there is nothing you can do about it besides throw more storage devices at the problem and hope that somehow the problem goes away.

Of course, we all know that the problems related to the growth of information are not going to go away.  We have to face them in order to make it easier for our fellow employees to find the content they need quickly, to facilitate more efficient business processes, reduce our exposure to risk and yes, reduce our storage infrastructure costs through archiving and disposition. 

What will you and your company do to push through the wall and overcome the business challenges created by the unchecked growth of business content?  To help you think about new ways to overcome your business challenges with better content management, we are having a webcast on the topic that we think you will find useful.  

Please join us on Thursday, April 18th at 1pm ET, 10am PT to learn about the Seven Ways Content Can Improve the Health of Your Business.    We will see you there!

Monday Mar 25, 2013

Waiting on the paperwork...

Last Friday evening, I boarded a connecting flight as I made my way home across the country.  Tired yet relieved to be going home after working at an Oracle-sponsored industry event, I got on board and watched as every last bit of seating and storage space was consumed by fellow travelers.  We were then notified that the plane had a maintenance issue that was being investigated and within seconds, many of us on the plane were automatically notified of the new estimated departure time on our smartphones.  In terms of customer communication, so far so good!  The airline (who will remain unnamed) was informing customers promptly about an unforeseen issue and the customers responded by settling in with whatever reading material they had.

Within a half hour, we were notified that the problem was resolved.  But then, those dreaded words came across the PA system from the Captain. "We are ready to go, but we are waiting on the paper work."

Now the crowd emitted an audible groan.  Why is that?  In my case, when someone tells me that they are "waiting on the paper work", I immediately have an image of a slow, tedious, bureaucratic process requiring a manual approval.  Sure enough, we waited for quite a while as our now perfectly operational aircraft was held on the ground...  by paper.

What struck me as I loitered on the plane with my fellow passengers that night is that there are still, surprisingly, many business processes that rely on physical paper and manual signatures.  It's easy to think in this day and age that everything is now automated.  We live in a world of notifications and alerts, automatic updates, text messages, social collaboration and news feeds.  Yet at the same time, there are a myriad of areas in our personal and professional lives that rely on paper and pen.

In the case of airplane maintenance, procedures must be followed and documented.  There are industry and government mandated regulations that outline exactly how maintenance repairs are performed and formal records must be kept of every repair done on each plane for safety and legal reasons.  And yet with automated imaging, scanning and forms recognition solutions such as those available with Oracle WebCenter, these approved forms could be routed much faster. Management of the records and associated documents would also be more efficient and less prone to human error and possible loss or damage to the paper documents.

If there is room for improvement in business processes that directly impact customers at one of the world's largest airlines, what about your business?  Are you still relying on paper forms and documents in critical or regulated business processes?  How does this effect the customer experience you provide?

Oracle WebCenter provides a plethora of solutions for businesses looking to improve the customer experience. From Self-Service Portals to targeted Web Experience Management to Enterprise Content Management and yes, even Automated Imaging solutions that help you eliminate paper from your processes.  As a reader of this blog, we hope we have already helped you solve some of your business challenges and we look forward to helping you address more in the future as you strive to continuously improve.  Thank you for joining us!

Friday Mar 15, 2013

Making a Real Impact on Your Bottom Line

This week, we've been focusing on how your business can realize significant cost savings by implementing automated capture and imaging solutions within your existing processes.  If you haven't already seen the screencast overview that illustrates the benefits of doing so, please take a look and share it with your colleagues at work.  We think it will be 7 minutes of your time well spent.

To further peak your interest, today we want to highlight a couple of recent customer examples from those that have already started using Oracle WebCenter Content and Imaging solutions along with their e-business processes.  The first customer that we will take note of is Texas Industries, or TXI.  As a mid-size company that is a leading supplier of cement, aggregate and consumer product building materials, TXI is very decentralized with 100 plants across 5 states.  Manual processing in many locations was proving very costly, to say nothing of the costs associated with managing, shipping and tracking of invoices and related documents. 

After implementing Oracle WebCenter Imaging, they have reduced the number of invoices that have to be manually verified by over 25%, reduced their invoice cycle time from around 30 days to less than 5 and reduced their shipping and storage costs by 50%.  Significant savings that helped TXI realize a fast return on their investment and fund further innovation.

Another company worth noting is Development Dimensions International, or DDI.  As a leading provider of Talent Management and Learning Systems, DDI works with thousands of customers and individual clients.  Enhancing back-end processes while securing sensitive content in a compliant fashion has paid immediate dividends.  Since implementing Oracle WebCenter Content and Imaging solutions in conjunction with their Oracle E-Business Suite, DDI has seen an 80% reduction in the costs associated with technical support and service and reduced reliance on manual, paper-driven processes has helped them save 20% on storage and management costs.

With today’s budgets and expectation to be as efficient as possible, it behooves any size company that relies on back-end e-business systems to evaluate how those processes run today and what can be done to make them more cost-effective.  Oracle WebCenter Content and Imaging solutions offer a powerful way to quickly realize cost savings be enhancing the systems you already rely on to keep your business running.

We hope you find this information informative as you look to improve the way your organization handles internal and external business processes. Thanks for visiting our blog and we hope to see you again soon!

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Thursday Mar 14, 2013

Show Me the Savings! The Value of Radically Cutting Internal e-Biz Processing Costs

Lately a lot has been written about the opportunity available to companies that can take advantage of dynamic discounting when dealing with partners and suppliers.  But how can you get your organization to the point where you can also take advantage?  It can seem daunting but if you already are using Oracle e-business suite, PeopleSoft Enterprise, JD Edwards or Siebel CRM, you are already halfway there!

Simply put, dynamic discounting allows you to negotiate favorable pricing when you have the ability to pay your suppliers very quickly.  Initially it might seem counter-intuitive that you can improve cash flow by paying suppliers early, but the numbers tell the story.   For example, if you can negotiate a 2% discount with your suppliers by promising to pay them in 10 days instead of the traditional 30, the return on capital is 2% in 20 days, or 36% annually.  That kind of return is certainly more than the interest earned by delaying your payments.

That's all fine and nice if you can actually guarantee quick payments with confidence.  But for many companies, the processing of documents, faxes, scanned images and other content is not anywhere near as efficient as their transactional processes.  WebCenter Content and Imaging solutions fill that gap and provide the automated capture, scanning and intelligent routing needed to accelerate invoice processing along with lots of other internal processes.

This week, we posted a new screencast that quickly illustrates how processes can be improved using WebCenter Imaging from Oracle.  You can view it here.  We believe you will find it insightful and that you can use it to get your company thinking about ways to further automate systems that can make a real impact on the bottom line.  For further details, please be sure to view one of our recent webcasts on how to optimize your e-business systems.

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Tuesday Mar 12, 2013

WebCenter Customer Spotlight: DDI

Author: Peter Reiser - Social Business Evangelist, Oracle WebCenter

 Solution Summary

Development Dimensions International, Inc. (DDI) has been helping hundreds of organizations around the world―including half of the Fortune 500 companies―close the gap between where their businesses need to go and the talent they must have to take them there. With associates in 42 offices in 26 countries, the company’s expertise includes designing and implementing employee selection systems and identifying and developing talent, from front-line workers to executive leadership.

As DDI continued to grow, it experienced escalating costs associated with searching, storing, and recreating critical, expense-related documents for its operations around the globe.

They  implemented Oracle Internet Expenses and integrated  a new document-capture solution based on Oracle WebCenter Imaging,  that enabled the company to overcome the limitations of its legacy system with an open, enterprise architecture that facilitates a flexible deployment.

DDI cut administrative costs associated with managing paper-based transactions, as well as operational costs associated with photocopying, faxing, and couriering documents and decreased its physical storage requirements & costs.  DDI estimates that it is saving the equivalent of one full-time staff member in IT management.  In addition, the company gained the ability to track, access, and manage information more efficiently to assist with regulatory compliance related to information protection and privacy.

Company Overview

Since 1970, Development Dimensions International, Inc. (DDI) has been helping hundreds of organizations around the world―including half of the Fortune 500 companies―close the gap between where their businesses need to go and the talent they must have to take them there. With associates in 42 offices in 26 countries, the company’s expertise includes designing and implementing employee selection systems and identifying and developing talent, from front-line workers to executive leadership.

Business Challenges

The company previously used a third-party system to manage employee expenses, a solution that was extremely complex to maintain, as it was not built on a standards-based architecture.  As DDI continued to grow, it experienced escalating costs associated with searching, storing, and recreating critical, expense-related documents for its operations around the globe. Every year, employees spent thousands of hours and the company expended significant financial resources distributing client-billable expense receipts across several departments globally. This largely manual system delayed employee reimbursement and client billing and prohibited the rollout of shared services centers, designed to elevate efficiency and customer service.

To address these challenges, DDI defined following business objectives:

  • Advance DDI’s global, shared services strategy to help it to reduce costs, improve administrative efficiency, and expand its ability to deliver world-class talent acquisition and development services
  • Enable the company to more efficiently capture and process employee expenses, eliminating manual processes and accelerating reimbursement, as well as customer billing
  • Reduce IT complexity and management costs by eliminating custom integrations between the company’s business-critical applications and systems
Solution Deployed

DDI implemented Oracle Internet Expenses to accelerate expense report submission, approval, processing, and payment, and control expenses with flexible audit tools. The solution automated the approval workflow and accelerated and ensured accurate expense attribution in client invoices.
At the same time, DDI implemented  a new document-capture solution. It deployed Oracle WebCenter Imaging, a solution that enabled the company to overcome the limitations of its legacy system with an open, enterprise architecture that facilitates a flexible deployment. As part of the rollout, it integrated Oracle WebCenter Imaging with Oracle Internet Expenses. Oracle WebCenter Imaging operates as an infrastructure-supporting solution, as opposed to an application unto itself—so the company can leverage it as a shared service that extends wherever imaging is required throughout the enterprise. 

Business Results
DDI cut administrative costs associated with managing paper-based transactions, as well as operational costs associated with photocopying, faxing, and couriering documents. Further, the company decreased its physical storage requirements and costs.  DDI estimates that it is saving the equivalent of one full-time staff member in IT management. The team can now apply time it previously spent managing and maintaining custom interfaces to more strategic initiatives. In addition, the company gained the ability to track, access, and manage information more efficiently to assist with regulatory compliance related to information protection and privacy.

We are very pleased with the way Oracle WebCenter Imaging enabled us to achieve process efficiencies by capturing receipt images up front and making them accessible to managers and other approvers all along the workflow. We also like that we can retrieve images not only from Oracle Internet Expenses, but also from Oracle Payables, as well as within Oracle WebCenter Imaging itself.

Mike Fieldhammer, Corporate Controller, Development Dimensions International

Additional Information

Monday Mar 11, 2013

The Attractiveness of Automated Capture, Scanning and Imaging for Your E-Business Applications

Ok, let's face it.  When we bring up a topic like automated capture, scanning and imaging, it might not make your heart flutter.  And when we see a blog post about automating processes like Accounts Payable Invoice Processing, I doubt your pulse quickens.  But maybe it should!  Let me explain...

Today, we have posted a new "screencast" that walks you through a short before and after scenario showcasing how the use of Oracle WebCenter Imaging can slash the costs associated with AP invoicing.  It's about 7 minutes long and the perfect thing to watch before you head off to your next meeting.  While many companies use Oracle E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft Enterprise or JD Edwards to optimize how business transactions are handled, the handling and management of associated documents and other files are often disconnected.  Fixing this problem and driving further efficiencies is certainly a great way to become bit more popular around the office.

Here's how.  Many companies are still relying on paper forms, faxes, letters, scanned images and digital content as key elements within business processes.  These items should ideally be easily referenced, stored and managed within the scope of the process, but when it is a piece of paper or a fax, that can get very tricky.  That invoice might be in a stack of papers on a specialist’s desk over at headquarters.  Or maybe that fax with the new contract terms got routed to a clerk’s e-mail but he is on vacation for the next 10 days.  You get the picture; the information is in the company...somewhere.   But when paper or disconnected and unmanaged files are involved, everything becomes a manual process which of course means it is error prone, slow and likely under a poor level of governance.

That's where Oracle WebCenter Imaging Solutions come in.  With native integrations for Oracle E-Business applications, you can automate the capture of documents, images and forms and automatically detect the type of form or document, retrieve line item information right off the document and route it into the appropriate process.  And that is where the appeal comes in.  When you bring in WebCenter and start improving first one, and then multiple processes, you will start seeing immediate results that drive significant cost savings.  Having that sort of vision and eye for strategic business improvement drives recognition and visibility within any company.  And who knows what might happen next with your newfound recognition?  Perhaps your boss sees your value and gives you that big salary increase you now so clearly deserve.  Upper management hears about the difference you are making in your part of the organization and invites you to present your ideas at the next leadership meeting.  The next thing you know you are having cocktails with the CEO's daughter on the porch of their summer house in St. Tropez. 

Admittedly, your scenario might be somewhat different from this one but when it comes to making significant improvements to the company’s bottom line by optimizing back-end processes like AP Invoicing, the results are proven and tangible.  Learning more about how your organization can save money and be more efficient is certainly time well-spent, and just might pay some personal dividends.  Check out the screencast to learn more and check back on this blog throughout the week for more information.  You may not end up in St. Tropez, but no matter where you work, being smart and saving money is always sexy.

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Thursday Feb 07, 2013

Planning for a blizzard of information

If you are watching the news this week, you know that there is a major snowstorm coming towards those of us here in the Northeast.  Here in Boston, some of us will get two feet or more of snow in the next 48 hours, so you can imagine the flurry (pun intended) of activity that is going on before the arrival of the impending storm. People are filling their gas tanks, crowding the supermarkets to stock up on supplies and getting ready to be stuck at home for a few days.

When I was at the store, standing in the extra long line at checkout, I was thinking about all this preparation going on.  Everyone in Boston is aware that there is a storm coming and doing their utmost to be ready. There is literally no excuse for anyone not to be fully prepared.  But when it comes to content management and dealing with the ever-growing onslaught of documents, images, videos, forms and every other type of content imaginable, do we prepare properly within our businesses?

Often the answer is no.  The tendency is to avoid dealing with any information management issues until they really become a problem.  Just imagine if we dealt with impending snowstorms that way!  "Hey, I don't see any snow right now, so there is obviously not a problem. I will just wait until I really see it coming down hard before I start preparing."  Not a great plan, I am sure you would agree.

Every year, reports tell us that the amount of information being produced by businesses and our customers is growing exponentially with no sign of stopping. What are we doing to properly prepare and be ahead of the game?  Is your "plan" to keep buying hard drives and servers until you run out of room?  Or are you proactively putting a plan together to define retention policies, disposition policies and business rules that keep things safe and securely under control?

Hopefully you are one of those doing the latter, but if you have been delayed in getting a better handle on the avalanche of information coming your way, it's not too late to start thinking strategically about how you address content management and how you can obtain more value from that content by integrating it within the fabric of your essential business processes so that everything is right at your users' fingertips.  We've produced a short whitepaper on the subject that I hope you can read when you get the chance.  It's called "From Unstructured to Strategic: How Content Management Is Driving Strategic Initiatives" and you can quickly register to download it by clicking this URL.

For those of you here in the northeast of the United States, stay warm and safe!

Tuesday Feb 05, 2013

The Refrigerator of Knowledge

Quite a few years ago, perhaps more than I care to remember, a colleague described how she thought that a content management repository was like a refrigerator.  At first, I did not follow where she was taking this analogy but I soon got it and it has stuck with me to this day.  Since we are discussing content management and how to get the most from your information under management, I thought it worth sharing today...

If we think of the food we buy at home as being like the content and documents we create at work, we would probably all agree that they both have a value and that they both require an appropriate level of care.  There are extremes in both cases.  Skittles, for example, have almost no value (and can scarcely be considered food) but they also require almost no care.  You could leave a package on the floor for 20 years and they would be unchanged when you got back.  On the other extreme, a food of much more value, say Bluefin Tuna, needs extra care and protection in order for its value to be maintained.  In the same way, we have different types of information in our work environment.  The contract documents being negotiated require extreme care and safety controls to be in place, while the document announcing the upcoming ice cream party next Friday requires no care and can safely be discarded Friday night.  To take proper care of the high-value information, access must be controlled, version tracking and auditing must be in place and information governance regulations must be adhered to in most industries.

But the real value in your content is not just in the creation, it's in how well you utilize it.  It's the same with food.  You can go to the gourmet store, spend quite a bit of money to get the freshest ingredients but if you do not put them to good use, it is a complete waste of time and effort.  Same with your business content in all its forms.  Scanned documents and forms that come in from customers, collateral developed by marketing, documentation on your new product, partner contracts, sales quotes, the list of potentially valuable information in your company is endless.  But how well is that information put to use?  Securing it in a safe place is not enough, it's how you integrate it within critical business processes and make it readily available to the right people at the right time that defines what value you realize.  It's the same with the food that you spent all that money on.  If you simply secure it in your fridge and never open the fridge again because security is of overriding importance, the food will rot, age and go to waste.  Information not properly used is not worth gathering or creating in the first place. 

One last thought related to this analogy.  Have you ever been to a friends house and opened up their fridge to find a complete mess of mysterious food packages, plastic bags of leftovers - all just crammed in there to be gone through later?  Besides being disgusting, you will never find what you are looking for.  In fact you are likely to give up and drive to the store to buy something new before you will spend the time searching through unlabeled wads of aluminum foil that contain only who-knows-what.  On the other hand, when you open up a clean, well-organized refrigerator, you can find what you are looking for right away and have additional confidence that the leftovers you retrieve have not been lurking in there since the Nixon administration. Information management is similar in that when it is well-organized and easily accessible, users can get just what they need, when they need it and know that is the freshest, most up-to-date information.

So how organized is your company refrigerator, um, i mean content management system?  Can your employees, management, business partners find what they need when they need it?  Are you getting the most value by having information readily available within your important business processes?  If not, it's time to rethink how you use information, how you store it and of course, how to properly and securely dispose of the low-value information.  As you think more about the real value of your content and how strategic it is, be sure also to download a copy of our whitepaper on the topic. From Unstructured to Strategic: How Content Management Is Driving Strategic Initiatives

Next time you open up a friends refrigerator, you will now think about content management.  You're welcome. 

Monday Feb 04, 2013

Where do you like to hide your information?

Good morning and welcome to Monday...

Here in the States, this is the day to recover from whatever Super Bowl festivities you might have had last night. While I personally wish my Patriots had been playing the Niners, there is always next year.  But that same approach can get you in trouble when it comes to how your organization stores and provides access to information.  The idea that you will "get to it next year" can end up costing you a lot of time, money and angst this year.

I recently had a little Q&A with Bryant Duhon from AIIM about managing information.  We are planning for the upcoming AIIM show in New Orleans ( and Oracle is pleased to be a platinum sponsor of the event.  We hit on a topic that has been written about before but still remains a vexing problem for companies around the world.  Over time, information that has real value, and needs to be reused or accessed by other colleagues is scattered across different locations and different systems - all of which are usually not connected to one another.  These locations are often referred to as "information silos" because of how they isolate information within individual repositories.

Bryant asked me this question, "We've been talking about information silos in this industry for at least two decades; how do we move from talking to doing?"  It's a good question.  Clearly if it was so easy to do, it would not still be coming up as an issue! Personally, I've come to the conclusion that eliminating information silos is a worthwhile but not always achievable goal for most organizations.  In my response, I stated that eliminating information silos has been the ideal scenario for many years. But the reality is that over time, organizations take on new technologies for information management but are unable or unwilling to wean themselves from the earlier, now legacy, technologies. Eventually a company may find itself with several different content management systems, each still used by one or more departments for a vital business function. Software vendors periodically attempt to address this problem with new technologies that often end up adding additional layers of complexity. IBM Lotus Notes and Microsoft SharePoint are popular examples of collaboration and information sharing tools that instead of delivering on the promise of simplified content management, have over time exacerbated the information silo problem for most organizations.  The Cloud and its many variations, now offers a new take on this decades-old information management challenge, but that's a topic for another day.

So what is an information management professional like yourself supposed to do?  Will you just throw up your hands and allow new repositories to keep popping up like so many groundhogs (slightly apropos this week) across the IT landscape?  Well, that is not such a great idea either.  The more disconnected your approach to information management, the more disconnected your vital business systems become, the more fragmented your operations become and the more inefficient your employees and colleagues will be.  If anyone ever needs to find anything, they will first need to know where to start looking.  Good luck with that!  :)

The approach that often succeeds for many businesses is to take a step back, evaluate the information landscape and consider strategic improvements to how information is shared, utilized, archived and controlled.  Then take positive steps to minimizing the number of repositories in use with an eye toward integrating as many business processes as possible around one "primary" information store.

Since content migration is frequently difficult or prohibitively expensive, the best opportunity for making actual progress on this front is for organizations to standardize on one ideal repository moving forward. When this is not possible, the goal should be to minimize and reduce the number of content repositories for all business applications moving forward. Using application integration frameworks and connectors, this new go-forward repository must be leveraged within the context of as many business processes as possible – which means that finding the right information management system that aligns with your overall business strategy should be one of the leading selection criteria.

Stopping the creation of new information silos is job one. Then over time, business processes and applications can be updated to take advantage of this new repository and legacy systems can be put into maintenance mode where older information is still accessible but no new content is being added. This takes time, proper planning, and a firm hand at the wheel that helps minimize distractions created by the latest shiny new technology in order to drive information management costs down over time.  If you can spare 30 minutes or so, I recommend you take a look at a webcast we did here at Oracle about ways to think about consolidation and the rationale (cost savings!!) for doing so.  Click here to register and watch it immediately.

You can read the rest of our conversation on the AIIM blog, here: As always, we welcome your comments, suggestions, ideas and feedback here on the WebCenter blog.  If I don't hear from you here, I hope to see you at the AIIM Conference in New Orleans next month!

Friday Jan 11, 2013

When it comes to Content and your business - Go Big or Stay Home!

Happy Friday everyone!  Yesterday I wrote briefly about the importance of honing your personal skills along with improving the way you use technology to manage content in your organization. Today, I want to focus on an old adage that serves as a great resolution to use almost any time, whether it be in your professional life or your personal life.

ECM Resolution #4:  Go Big or Stay Home!

I am sure you've heard that saying, or something close to it before.  My grandmother had a few variations of this one herself, some of which I probably cannot post in an Oracle blog!  :) But one of her oft-quoted reminders that stuck with me was that "any job worth doing is worth doing right".  A corollary of this might be "if you are going to manage your content properly and get maximum value, go with a proven and tested industry leader".

While my grandmother certainly never uttered those words about managing content, it's hard to argue with the idea of investing in the best technology that will deliver the best results.  It's especially true when it comes to technology that is at the fundamental core of your business!  One of the best ways to evaluate and recognize who the leader is in any business is via third-party analysts.  Gartner Research recently announced the results from their Magic Quadrant research on Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions and for the 5th straight year, the Oracle WebCenter ECM solution is again honored to be in the Leaders quadrant, recognizing the completeness of the Oracle WebCenter's product vision and our ability to execute.

As we talked about in previous blog posts, content and the proper management of it is (or should be) at the core of your business.  Your important content should never be stored in an information silo, in fact that is the last thing you want!  To make the most of your valuable information you also want powerful connected systems.  In addition to our strong history of being a leader in the ECM market, Oracle WebCenter is also recognized as a leader by Gartner Research in their Horizontal Portal and Web Content Management Magic Quadrants.

We are once again proud of this recognition from Gartner and similar recognition that we have received from other leading analyst firms around the world. But even more important are the testimonials we get from satisfied customers.  Recently, the Alberta Ministry of Agriculture was kind enough to describe the value of their WebCenter Content implementation in a short video. Check it out for yourself here.  Short video testimonials from other customers such as BDO , AIA and the Chicago Public Schools offer additional, valuable insights into real-life business scenarios enhanced with WebCenter enterprise content management.

Realizing a rapid return on any investment like this is essential, especially in the economic environment of today.  Embry-Riddle recently worked with us to proudly showcase the ROI they have realized by using WebCenter that is also worth taking a few minutes to view. All this brings us back to our final resolution of the week. Admittedly the above is certainly an abundance of "tooting our own horn" but when it comes to making resolutions that directly effect the direction your business is taking when it comes to content management, you want to know you are going with the best available technology solutions.  Go Big or Stay Home.  You are not seriously going to consider doing the latter - so make sure you do the former! 

We hope these resolutions throughout the week have given you food for thought as you evaluate your approach to content management and how it is really put to use within vital business processes across your company.  Thank you for taking the time to read the WebCenter blog and stay tuned next week for another valuable series of posts about WebCenter Sites.

Thursday Jan 10, 2013

ECM Resolution #3: Improve your information management skills to better drive business objectives

Hello again and welcome back to this series of blog posts covering achievable resolutions that you can make this year to improve the way you manage documents, files and all types of information used by your company. In the first post, we talked about planning for increased growth and in the second post, we talked about putting content to work more effectively and within the context of real business applications. But today, we are going to change our focus a little bit and zero in on the personal.

ECM Resolution #3:  
Look out for Number One!

As the use of content within business continues to expand and be utilized in a more holistic fashion, the expectations for technology professionals are also changing.  In a recent survey conducted by AIIM (and sponsored by Oracle), nearly 60% of 321 respondents viewed the role of Information Professional as vital to the future growth of their business. Traditional roles like "Records Manager" and "Technology Specialist" are being superseded in terms of perceived value by roles that are more encompassing and that can address the broader operational demands of the business.

Guess what?  This means that it is time to take a fresh look at your own skills and achieve the certifications necessary to meet changing job market demands. That might mean taking additional online training and if you are already an Oracle WebCenter user that might mean taking advantage of the classes at the Oracle University. More broadly, it can mean taking advantage of professional certification opportunities such as the AIIM Certified Information Professional program. Oracle recently sponsored a whitepaper and webcast on this topic to help drive more awareness around the importance of taking a business-wide approach to content and information management. Oracle WebCenter is designed to do exactly that, as we discussed in yesterdays' blog post.  But for you personally, adding certifications to your list of job skills can only enhance your standing in your current organization and can only enhance your resume.

A manager I had long ago once told me "no one is going to look out for #1 like #1".  When it comes to being an information professional, someone that can see the strategic potential of integrating content management across a variety of organizational needs, you can add real value to your companies use of ECM, but only by continually investing in the skills needed to stay ahead of the game.

See you back here tomorrow for another ECM Resolution worth striving for!


Oracle WebCenter is the center of engagement for business—powering exceptional experiences for customers, partners, and employees. It connects people, process, and information with the most complete portfolio of portal, Web experience management, content, imaging and collaboration technologies.


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